The globetrotting Australian plays a rare all-night set.
The party took place at Lot 613 in Downtown Los Angeles' Arts District. One of the city's few legal venues suited to club DJs, it hovers just above the underground, mimicking the look of a bare, dark warehouse. But unlike LA's illicit afterhours venues, it closes at 4 AM and abides by the strict 2 AM alcohol cut-off. Not that Mall Grab's fans cared—they danced with dedication until the lights came on.
From early on there was a buzz of excitement in the room, as dancers staked out spots as close to the DJ as possible. When I entered, Mall Grab was working through a series of slow-burning house cuts with a dark, industrial edge. But as the crowd grew, the tempo climbed, and soon dusty stabs and crunchy, swinging drums were eliciting cheers from all corners.
Bobbing energetically behind a trio of CDJs, the young DJ relied on well-timed cuts to build tension, while adding flavor with the occasional spinback or echo trick. During peak time, the banging house beats of FOLD's "Wallop" and Mall Grab's "Menace II Society" propelled the action. When he ventured into trance and faster techno tracks, like Mark Hawkins' "Glasgow Kiss," the audience was fully onboard.
Mall Grab's set, with its gradual build in tempo and intensity, was well executed, but it also felt one-dimensional given the opportunity at hand. An extended set should showcase the quirks of an artist's musical personality. By contrast, the vast majority of Mall Grab's selections were firmly within the bounds of European and US four-to-the-floor dance music. Considering his technical prowess and knack for hyping a crowd, it would've been great to hear what else he has in his bag.